Routine screening for depression in adults is recommended by the US Preventive Services Task Force, but there are no current screening recommendations for anxiety in women who, according to the Women’s Preventive Services Initiative (WPSI), experience a prevalence of anxiety disorders at a rate at nearly twice that of men. Now though, WPSI, a federally funded national coalition of health organizations led by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, recommends that primary care doctors issue anxiety screenings for females started from age 13, including pregnant and postpartum women.
This recommendation, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine on June 9, was made in order promote earlier detection of anxiety disorders and conditions that occur alongside them such as depression and PTSD, and therefore initiate further evaluation of diagnosis and the appropriate treatment (psychotherapy and medication, for instance). Heidi Nelson, MD, MPH, one of the authors of the report and a professor at Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine, told NPR, “Anxiety lives under the surface and can be very disabling, but it’s not easily picked up by clinicians. By asking a few questions, we have the ability to help people in a way that’s not possible unless we actually ask.”